60-SECOND FILM REVIEWS

NowShowing

New movies showing in Minneapolis

By Wendy Schadewald (Rating system: 4=Don’t miss, 3=Good, 2=Worth a look, 1=Forget it)

“Aquaman” (PG-13) (3) [Sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and some language.] — While a vindictive naval pirate, treasure hunter, and mercenary (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) seeks revenge against Aquaman (Jason Momoa), whose mother (Nicole Kidman) was Queen of Atlantis and his human father Temuera Morrison) a Maine lighthouse keeper, for letting his father (Michael Beach) die on a Russian prototype, stealth, nuclear submarine in 1985 in this colorful, action-packed, entertaining, fast-paced, star-dotted (Djimon Hounsou, John Rhys-Davies, Randall Park, Graham James McTavish, Dolph Lundgren, and Julie Andrews), 3D, 143-minute, James Wan sci-fi film, the reluctant underwater king joins forces with his longtime advisor (Willem Dafoe) and an Atlantean warrior princess (Amber Heard) to stop his power-hungry half-brother (Patrick Wilson) and the rulers of the seven kingdoms from waging war on humans with the help of a powerful, sacred trident.

 

“Bird Box” (R) (3) [Violence, bloody images, language, and brief sexuality.] [Netflix only] — After thousands commit suicide when looking at a mysterious, supernatural, deadly force the in this intense, dark, creative, creepy, post-apocalyptic, star-dotted (Pruitt Taylor Vince and Parminder Nagra, and Rebecca Pidgeon), 124-minute thriller based on Josh Malerman’s novel, a pregnant artist (Sandra Bullock) witnesses the death of her sister (Sarah Paulson); ends up in a house with other frightened, weary, and blindfolded survivors (John Malkovich, Trevante Rhodes, Tom Hollander, Jacki Weaver, Danielle Macdonald, Lil Rel Howery, Rosa Salazar, BD Wong, Machine Gun Kelly, et al.); and eventually five years later tries to protect two children (Julian Edwards and Vivian Lyra Blair) while they head blindfolded down river seeking safety and a refuge.

 

“Bumblebee” (PG-13) (3.5) [Sequences of sci-fi action violence.] — After a charming Autobot (voiceover by Dylan O’Brien) lands on Earth in 1987 following the destruction of Cybertron and hides in a junkyard as a VW bug car in this fun-filled, entertaining, family-friendly, action-packed, fast-paced, star-studded (John Ortiz, John Cena, Len Cariou, Kenneth Choi, and Peter Cullen), 3D, 113-minute sci-fi prequel to the 2007 “Transformers,” a grieving, mechanically-savvy, 18-year-old girl (Hailee Steinfeld), who lives with her mother (Pamela Adlon), stepfather (Stephen Schneider), and younger brother (Jason Ian Drucker) near San Francisco, brings a yellow bug home and when the menacing Decepticons (voiceovers by Angela Bassett and Justin Theroux) come to Earth with the ultimate intent of destroying the planet, the Autobot, the teenager, and her smitten neighbor (Jorge David Lendeborg Jr.) team up to stop the Decepticons from relaying a transmission to bring more Decepticons to Earth.

 

“If Beale Street Could Talk” (R) (3.5) [Language and some sexual content.] — Superb acting dominates this riveting, critically acclaimed, heartbreaking, realistic, star-dotted (Diego Luna, Finn Wittrock, Pedro Pascal, and Brian Tyree Henry), 2-hour film based on James Baldwin’s 1974 novel in which the life of a pregnant, 19-year-old department store clerk (Kiki Layne), who has supportive parents (Regina King and  Colman Domingo) and a sister (Teyonah Parris) in Harlem, is turned upside down when her soon-to-be in-laws (Michael Beach, Aunjanue Ellis, Ebony Obsidian, and Dominique Thorne) are upset about her out-of-wedlock pregnancy and her African-American sculptor fiancé (Stephan James) is erroneously arrested by a vindictive, racist cop (Ed Skrein) for the alleged rape of a Puerto Rican woman (Emily Rios) who then skips town.

 

“On the Basis of Sex” (PG-13) (4) [Some language and suggestive content.] — Terrific acting dominates this captivating, inspirational, insightful, critically acclaimed, factually based, star-studded (Justin Theroux, Kathy Bates, Stephen Root, Jack Reynor, Sam Waterson, and Wendy Crewson), 2-hour biographical film that follows the life and illustrious career of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Felicity Jones), who raised two children (Cailee Spaeny and Callum Shoniker), from her discrimination days at Harvard Law School in the 1950s, working as a law professor, litigating a landmark case of Moritz v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue with her supportive tax attorney husband (Armie Hammer) before the U. S. Court of Appeals in 1972 in which a bachelor Colorado man (Chris Mulkey) was discriminated against by the IRS tax law, and eventually rising to the position of U.S. Supreme Court Justice in 1993.

 

“Vice” (R) (3.5) [Language and some violent images.] — Adam McKay’s fascinating, engaging, factually based, humorous, star-studded (Tyler Perry, Steve Carell, Bill Camp, Jesse Plemmons, Eddie Marsan, Shea Whigham, Justin Kirk, Don McManus, LisaGay Hamilton, Bob Stephenson, Ronald Regan, Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, and Richard Nixon), 132-minute political satire that delves into the life and powerful, tumultuous career of shrewd, Yale-dropout Richard Bruce Cheney (Christian Bale), who was pushed by his ambitious wife Lynne (Amy Adams) to make something of himself and together raised two daughters (Alison Pill and Lily Rabe), from his days as a congressional intern in 1968, White House chief of staff, Wyoming U. S. House of Representative, Secretary of Defense under President George H. W. Bush (John Hillner), to financially successful Halliburton CEO, and finally to his wheeling-and-dealing days as vice president from 2001 to 2009 under President George W. Bush (Sam Rockwell).

 

 

On DVD

 

“The Black Balloon” (PG-13) (3.5) [Some sexual content, a scene of violence, and brief strong language.] [DVD only] — When a frustrated and teased 15-year-old high school student (Rhys Wakefield) in Queensland moves into a new neighborhood with his pregnant mom (Toni Collette) and father (Erik Thomson) in this poignant, touching, realistic, 87-minute, 2008 Australian film, he finds himself falling for a beautiful student (Gemma Ward) during his swimming classes and increasingly angry and agitated with his autistic older brother (Luke Ford) who is a handful and puts a strain on his home and social life.

 

“Cherry Blossoms” (NR) (3) [Partially subtitled] [DVD only] — When his beloved wife (Hannelore Elsner) unexpectedly dies while vacationing near the Baltic Sea together after visiting their grown children in Berlin in this moving, poignant, sad, 127-minute, 2008 film, the lonely and grief-stricken waste management manager (Elmar Wepper) heads to Tokyo to visit his estranged, workaholic son (Maximilian Brückner) where he meets a homeless Bhuto shadow dancer (Ava Irizuki) who joins him in fulfilling his wife’s dream of seeing the fleeting cherry blossoms and Mt. Fuji.

 

“Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk” (NR) (3) [DVD only] — Breathtaking views of the Grand Canyon and alarming conservation issues highlight this educational, surprising, eye-opening, 40-minute, 2008, IMAX documentary narrated by Robert Redford that focuses on anthropologist Wade Davies’ study of the drastic changes that have occurred in and along the Colorado River over time—especially during the last ten years—and the challenges faced by affected communities from Lake Powell all the way to Mexico.

 

“The Last House on the Left” (R) (1.5) [Sadistic brutal violence including a rape and disturbing images, language, nudity, and some drug use.] [DVD only] — A gruesome, initially suspenseful and promising, but ultimately farfetched and disappointing graphically violent, 110-minute, 2009 remake of the 1972 thriller in which four on-the-lam, murderous criminals (Garret Dillahunt, Riki Lindhome, Spencer Treat Clark, and Aaron Paul) are befriended by an unsuspecting a surgeon (Tony Goldwyn) and his wife (Monica Potter) at an isolated lakeside home after they terrorized and raped their 17-year-old daughter (Sara Paxton) and her girlfriend (Martha Maclsaac).

 

“National Lampoon Presents: The Beach Party at the Threshold of Hell” (R) (0) [Violence and language.] [DVD only] — An incomprehensible, boring, groan-inducing, futuristic, violent, 90-minute, 2006 comedy filled with bloody bodies and bizarre characters (Bill English, Alex Reznik, Ted Schneider, Daniel Baldwin, Jonathan Davidson, Lea Coco, Stewart Carrico, et al.) and features androids (Paul Whitty and Chandler Parker), a sexy cannibal (Jamie Bullock) and an orphan (Kevin Wheatley) who try to form a new nation in New America after an apocalypse.

 

“Towards Darkness” (R) (3) [Some strong violence, language, and a scene of sexuality.] [Partially subtitled] [DVD only] — While a frantic bank manager (Tony Plana) turns to a former FBI agent (Cameron Daddo) and unsavory friends (David Sutcliffe, William Atherton, and Fernando Solórzano) to save his son (Roberto Urbina) who has been abducted by kidnappers (Carlos Valencia, et al.) during a visit with his family in Colombia in this tension-filled, gut-wrenching, factually inspired., 94-minute, 2007 film, the frightened hostage reminiscences about his life, his mother (Alejandra Borrero), and girlfriend (America Ferrera).

 

“Watchmen” (R) (2.5) [Strong graphic violence, sexuality, nudity, and language.] [DVD only]  — When a superhero known as the comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is murdered in this gritty, satirical, imaginative, and violent 175-minute, 2009 film based on the popular DC comic books, the sock-wearing vigilante called Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) heads the investigation to find the killer and to warn other masked costumed superheroes (Billy Crudup, Malin Akerman, Matthew Goode, Laura Mennell, Patrick Wilson, Carla Gugino, Matt Fewer, and Stephen McHattie), who try to protect a paranoid mankind in 1985 during a particularly turbulent period when America was afraid of a nuclear attack from the Soviet Union, that they need to watch their backs.

Film Critic Wendy Schadewald reviewed films in the Twin Cities since 1986, and has been a guest critic on KARE-11’s Showcase Minnesota, WCCO radio, and AMC-950 radio. She reviews more than 250 films annually and has been a film buff for as long as she can remember. To see more of her film reviews, log on to shortredheadreelreviews.com.

©1986 through 2018 by Wendy Schadewald.

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